Exclusive: 'The Amazing Race' couple Rochelle Nevedal and Michael Dombrowski talk
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/26/2015
The Amazing Race's pre-existing couple Rochelle Nevedal and Michael Dombrowski finished the 26th season in fourth place during the finale on CBS.
Rochelle, a 29-year-old contract engineer from Kalkaska, MI, and her boyfriend Michael, a 26-year-old truck stop manager and pro wrestling promoter from Traverse City, MI, were eliminated halfway through the final leg.
Michael and Rochelle lost to third-place finishers Hayley Keel and Blair Townsend, runners-up Jelani Roy and Jenny Wu as well as winners Laura Pierson and Tyler Adams, who received $1 million on the twelfth leg after conquering five continents, eight countries and more than 35,000 miles.
Mike and Rochelle, who were the only couple out the four to not be on the wildest blind date of their lives, talked to Reality TV World in an exclusive interview about their experience on The Amazing Race. Below is what they had to say.
Reality TV World: What's the status of your relationship now? Are you still together, and if so, any talk of an engagement in the near future?
Michael Dombrowski: We're still together, and no engagement talk yet. (Laughs) We joke around sometimes about that, but not yet. We're just enjoying being together and stronger than ever.
I mean, if you go through the Race, you kind of have to either -- it's like a make or break situation. And so, we definitely grew stronger throughout the entire process. I couldn't be any happier in my relationship with her any more.
Reality TV World: Rochelle, was going on the Race sort of a test for your relationship in your mind? Because it came across like Mike passed the test and so he won the opportunity to meet your son? And has he met your son since the show?
Rochelle Nevedal: Yeah, I'd definitely say going on this race I wanted to make sure that Mike was the right person for me before introducing him to my son. And he definitely proved that to me.
And when we got home, I introduced him and we are a happy little family. My son loves Mike to death. They watch wrestling together and just hang out. Mike helps me pick him up from school and he's just been a great role model for my son.
Reality TV World: That's awesome, glad to hear it. If it couldn't be you guys, were you happy with Laura and Tyler winning? They seemed to rub a lot of the teams the wrong way. Some said they were sneaky and cutthroat.
Michael Dombrowski: I didn't mind personally, but we were kind of cheering a little bit for Blair and Hayley. Hayley's actually super nice and she bonded with us a lot, and Blair, I made really, really good friends with Blair throughout every single airport stop and a campfire in Namibia. Me and Blair got along. So I was rooting for them a little bit.
But I can't say anything bad about Laura and Tyler really. With their sneaky gameplay and stuff like that, I mean, when a million dollars is on the line, I mean, I would've done the exact same thing they did. You need to get where you're going, so follow the other cab drivers if yours doesn't know. Because we would've done the same thing.
Rochelle Nevedal: I think out of the Top 3, they were the strongest team. Although we were a little bit tighter with Blair and Hayley at that point, I do think they deserve the million, so I'm happy for them.
Reality TV World: I think you were on your way to P2 Ranch when your cab driver didn't wait for you and then you had to flag another one down. And then you needed to stop for gas. Did anything else happen during that period of time we didn't see that caused you more delay? And how much time total do you think that series of events wasted?
Michael Dombrowski: There was actually a lot that didn't air on the finale. Rochelle...
Rochelle Nevedal: First off, our cab driver we picked up in the airport, we were bugging him to stay for us. And he was like, "No, I can't! I have to go somewhere." So I said to him, "Could you please just call someone from your cab company and have him meet us here?" And he was like, "Absolutely not," and just did not want to help us.
So we knew at that point we just had to let it go and go to the challenge. And then when we got out, we were in an area where, I think Walmart was across the street -- it wasn't like a city/downtown area where you could just flag a cab -- so that took about 10 minutes to get the next cab.
Michael Dombrowski: And then when we did get that next cab, he had no idea where the ranch was at. He knew the area, like which exit on the highway we had to get off, he said. And the funny thing looking back on it is that we actually stopped at a gas station to ask for directions.
He didn't seem to get gas then but... then we saw on his GPS he passed where he needed to go. We were kind of telling him, "Hey, you passed it!" So then he stopped in this golf resort or something and this lady tried to write down or actually draw railroad tracks and stop signs and gas stations and everything for us.
Rochelle Nevedal: She gave us the perfect map.
Michael Dombrowski: Yeah, she drew a map. She Google Imaged it, we took a picture with our selfie cam, and Rochelle kept asking me, "Are we going the right way? Do you got it?"
And he was going, "Yeah, yeah, yeah!" We just got lost so many times with him and we actually stopped at somebody's house. That's how far out in the country we were. We knocked on their door and asked if they knew where the ranch was at, but they had no idea. There was just a lot going on there.
Reality TV World: When you two first saw host Phil Keoghan in that last leg, what was going through your minds?
Rochelle Nevedal: After it took so long to get there, like, we knew Phil would be waiting there for us. So, we knew it was over at that point.
Reality TV World: Rochelle, how old is your son?
Rochelle Nevedal: He's eight-years-old.
Reality TV World: Okay, because I wasn't sure if he was watching the season or you just knew he'd be watching it years from now. Did knowing that your son was watching the show change how you approached tasks and also interacted with Mike? If your son wasn't a factor, would you ever have given up on something or fought with Mike more than you appeared to?
Rochelle Nevedal: I definitely think having him in the back of my mind pushed me through a lot. There were even moments where I was stacking beer crates and I was the last one up and I was trying to gain my balance and I just thought of him, you know? So just having him at home and knowing that I needed to do this for us, definitely helped us get through a lot.
Reality TV World: The three teams to finish in first, second and third were all blind-dating couples. What does that tell you? Would you go as far as to say the blind dates had an advantage over the pre-existing couples?
Michael Dombrowski: I think they had the advantage, but what I keep saying is they're in that honeymoon phase even if they're not dating. You're trying to make a new friend or whatever, and you're always trying to project the best. You want them to think you're the absolute best at everything and how great you are.
They were in that phase, and even though we were racing constantly and we were stuck with each other, everybody within 20 feet pretty much -- I guess they got to sleep in separate rooms, but regardless, even 21 days together, you're still going to show the greatest side of you that you can at the end of the day.
I think that was a big advantage for them because they didn't want to let each other down. They didn't want to have the baggage. They just wanted to show the best person they could be.
Reality TV World: What was the biggest challenge you both had to overcome on the Race? And what came especially easy to you?
Rochelle Nevedal: I think, definitely, our biggest challenge was the driving. We did practice a couple times before we left. We didn't have that much time to prepare for tons of stuff.
We did practice before we went on, but I guess it's a lot different when you're driving in the city or on a different side of the road. I think that was definitely our biggest challenge and gave us the hardest go. What would you say was easy for us, Mike?
Michael Dombrowski: I would say what came easy for us was actually our communication and working together. Even if there was a hard challenge, we could suck it up and we communicated really well and worked well together. Rochelle was also always supportive when I was doing Roadblocks, encouraging me and everything like that.
I just think a lot of the teams either didn't have that or they would have moments of frustration and it would be very visible. With us, it was always just supporting each other, and that made the Race so easy to get through.
If I was stuck with somebody that -- even one of my best friends in the world -- there would still be moments where I would probably just flip out or they would. But with Rochelle, we just worked so well together and that made everything super easy.
Reality TV World: Would you two want to do The Amazing Race again? And if so, how might you prepare for it better next time around?
Michael Dombrowski: We would definitely race again for sure, in a heartbeat. I would personally drive a stick shift everywhere I went in that entire month whether I rented it or whatever just to make sure in those legs when we had to self-drive, that I would be ready to go with no problem.
Rochelle Nevedal: I agree with that definitely. I think also if we had more time to prepare, I'd love to get in better shape before going on the Race. I think, I mean, the competition we were against were super in shape, and I think just having a little bit more endurance would've helped us.
Check our The Amazing Race page for more interviews with the season's Final 4 teams.